Montpelier’s 90 percent solution | From the Editor

Since Aug. 16, I have received over a dozen e-mails regarding my editorial titled, “A Case of Solar Hubris”. Some praised me for pointing out the fallacy of covering Vermont’s hills and meadows with solar and wind power stations, while others took issue with me for taking sides with the NIMBY folks—the Not In My Backyarders.

Regarding my reference to Montpelier’s goal of generating 90 percent of its energy needs by 2025 using “homegrown” alternative energy, President Rob Roper of the Ethan Allen Institute was quick to respond that Vermont-based physical chemist Meredith Angwin ran the numbers in 2013 to determine exactly how much of an impact this lofty goal will have on the Vermont landscape.

With permission of the Ethan Allen Institute, we reprint Ms. Angwin’s 2013 report below:

“The 90 Percent Solution: What going to 90 percent renewable energy would do to Vermont’s landscape”—

“In 2011, the Vermont Department of Public Service published a Comprehensive Energy Plan (CEP) for Vermont’s future. The CEP states that Vermont will get 90% of all its energy, including the energy we use to drive our cars and heat our homes, from renewables by 2050. There’s another section titled ‘25 by 25’, meaning that Vermont should get 25 percent of its energy from renewables by 2025. There are no concrete directions or roadmaps for accomplishing either of these goals.

“In a hearing before the newly formed Energy Siting Board, one woman stated that the CEP was a collection of slogans, not a plan. She was correct. Nevertheless, it does represent the goals Montpelier has made for our state, they are acting on it, and we have to take it seriously. I am attempting to see how we could possibly meet these goals, and to answer the question what does moving to 90 percent renewable energy – or trying to – really mean? In particular, what impact would it have on our natural environment and signature Vermont landscape?

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